Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is unconstitutional but did not offer a decision on whether the rest of the healthcare law should be repealed.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold a district court's ruling that the individual mandate, a provision of the 2010 healthcare law commonly known as Obamacare, which requires Americans to enroll in healthcare coverage or pay a fee, is unlawful.
"The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power," the court said.
Last year, District Court Judge Reed O'Connor of Texas ruled against the legality of the individual mandate but further determined that it was "inseverable" from the remainder of the ACA.
While affirming the status of the individual mandate, the appeals court on Wednesday deferred the question on whether it could be separated from the rest of the law back to the district court.
"It may still be that none of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate, even after this inquiry is concluded," the appeals court ruled. "It may be that all of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate. It may also be that some of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate and some is not."
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led a group of Democratic-led states intervening in the case, said the state would "move swiftly" to challenge Wednesday's decision.